Authors: M. Homer
Tags: #breathe, #Eternal Press, #psychology, #M. Homer, #College romance, #Erotic, #Romance, #young love, #Suicide, #Suspense, #Dare to Breathe, #9781629290898, #New Adult, #dare, #Childhood abuse
Dare to Breathe
A division of Damnation Books, LLC.
P.O. Box 3931
Santa Rosa, CA 95402-9998
Dare to Breathe
by M. Homer
Digital ISBN: 978-1-62929-089-8
Print ISBN: 978-1-62929-090-4
Cover art by: Amanda Kelsey
Edited by: Sally Odgers
Copyright 2013 M. Homer
Printed in the United States of America
Worldwide Electronic & Digital Rights
Worldwide English Language Print Rights
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any form, including digital and electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the Publisher, except for brief quotes for use in reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
I’d like to dedicate this book to Paul. You were a great friend, and godfather to us and we miss you, your crazy sense of humor and your warm laughter every day.
The publication of this book would never have occurred but for the support and advice from my cousin Amanda Begg. Amanda read the first draft, fell in love
with the characters, and gave me the positive feedback I needed to send it to Eternal Press. Amanda, who lives on the other side of the world from me had to put up with early morning texts, late night emails, and constant messages of, “What did you think?” or “Did you like that?”
Thank you Manda for reading and editing the first draft of this manuscript and for encouraging me to keep going!
I’d also like to acknowledge my husband, Mike and my two gorgeous children. Thank you for putting up with me locked away, desperate to complete a scene while it was burning a hole in my head. I love you guys.
“The experiences of childhood are not like footprints in the sand. They are like footprints in cement—long lasting.”
—Children’s Commissioner, NZ
I feel my legs go to sleep as I sit cramped in the wardrobe with Alex and Fred, my younger brothers. I shift to get some feeling back and the pain is excruciating. I really need a pee but I am terrified to leave my hiding place here. The boys in their pajamas look at me with their big doleful eyes. Both are shivering and both look as scared as I feel. I try and smile at them but my legs and body hurt too much. I want to say something to them but my mouth is too dry. Suddenly we all freeze as we hear bang, bang, bang on the door.
“Open this fucking door, now!” a voice shouts from outside the locked bedroom door.
I squeeze my eyes shut and huddle closer to my brothers who start whimpering.
“Please stop!” I shout out in my mind but, of course, it doesn’t stop.
The banging just gets louder like someone out there is pounding with all their strength. I hear loud music in the background and lots of loud voices coming from the living room. No one remembers we are here other than the person banging on the door. The one person we wish would forget we even existed.
Suddenly we hear the hinges of the door give way and the wood cracks open.
“They are in here somewhere,” we hear a man sneer.
Oh, no. I think, we are in trouble now.
Two sets of footsteps come to the door and fling it wide open. I open my mouth and scream and scream and scream.
!” My roommate Jess is shaking me.
For a second I fight against her, still feeling like a six-year-old child stuck in the wardrobe hearing something terrifying approaching. Then my college room comes into focus and I relax, breathing hard.
Jess lets me go and walks away to her bed, shaking her wild blonde bed head as she goes.
“Jess,” I gasp trying to calm my racing heart while wiping my long sweaty hair off my face, “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
She frowns at me. “This is starting to freak me out! We’ve been here for a couple of weeks now and this has happened four times already! I am exhausted all day from waking you up every night. Maybe this is not going to work…” she says, waving her hands between us.
I met Jess for the first time when I moved here to Rainbow Springs to start my degree in child psychology. Jess is doing some sort of business degree. She is a pretty hard worker. I feel really guilty as I look into her tired hazel eyes. I knew about my nightmares before I came (of course) but as I have had them my whole life, they have just become a part of who I am. I forgot the impact they can have on others when I signed up to share a dorm on campus. At home my family simply hold me until I wake up, soothing me with a song they repeat over and over, about a little bird that flew away. We never speak about it afterwards. After years of trying, they have given up.
I clear my throat and take a sip of water. “I am really sorry,” is all I can say to her. I can’t say I won’t do it again, because I will. When your mind has been haunted for as long as mine, you know the horror lives within with no idea of how to free it.
I see her eyes soften. “Let’s try and get some more sleep, okay?” she mumbles, then pulls her covers over herself and turns away from me, sleeping almost immediately.
I, on the other hand, lie there, my heart still beating rapidly, my mind still picturing that damn cupboard and the horrors outside of it.
By the time I wake up in the morning, the sun is streaming into our small room and Jess has already left for the day. A note is pinned up on our corkboard.
We need to talk,
it says. I close my eyes, sighing. I pull the memo off the corkboard, crumple it, and throw it into the bin.
What can I do to fix this?
Maybe I should find a new room. Maybe there will be one available that I can have alone? One that doesn’t cost more?
I head into the bathroom and look at myself in the bathroom mirror. My normally bright blue eyes are tired with big rings around them and my long black hair lies limp against my face.
I won’t be winning any beauty prizes today.
I peel off my tank top and shorts and jump in the shower. I feel the hot water burning away the nightmares. I wash my hair and feel myself become more alert.
, I think, trying to be positive,
today I will go and talk to the housing department
. There must be something available.
Feeling more confident about taking control of my life, I get out of the shower, dry off and put on a pair of jeans and a clean tank top. I dry and brush my hair and then tie it up off my face. I quickly add some eyeliner and mascara to my crystal blue eyes and take the time to look at my sad efforts. I look less tired now but still no beauty queen.
I grab my sneakers, keys and bag, and head out.
“What is it exactly that you are looking for?” A bored middle aged lady looks at me over her glasses. Her name badge says ‘Tracey’. I see her eyes watching my every move, probably looking for signs of trouble.
“Um, well Tracey…I was hoping there was a dorm I could have to myself?” I try not to fidget on the plastic seat next to her desk.
She pulls her glasses off, closes her eyes, and pinches the bridge of her nose. Then she looks at me and sighs. “What is wrong with your roommate?”
She has probably had these types of housing issues all week. I guess when people come together for the first time there must be a whole heap of crap for the housing department at the college to sort out.
“Nothing,” I reply but continue when I see her patience levels drop. “It’s me. I have really bad nightmares, always have,” I go on quickly, “and she is tired of the broken sleep. I never thought about it before I applied for a shared room which I know is stupid,” I babble. “Now she is fed up and I think I should just stop the torture for everyone and get my own place.”
Tracey looks at me and I wonder if she is going to counsel me or something. I know if she does, I will just get up and walk away.
I am so not going there!
Instead she considers what I said and then turns to her computer and starts clicking away on the keys, scanning the screen.
“Hmm, okay…well…nope, not that one,” she mutters to herself. She continues for what feels like forever and I take the opportunity to start biting my nails and looking around the office. Suddenly she stops and looks over at me again with a little smile. “Well, Miss Marsh,” she starts and I give her my full attention. “I don’t have a separate dorm available but I do have a co-ed house just off campus, walking distance, which requires one more roommate? You get your own room,” she adds quickly when she sees my disappointment.
She cuts me off. “It is a four-bedroomed property which is reasonable to rent, within the same budget you have now as the room is quite small and away from the other three rooms, which are all upstairs,” she finishes triumphantly.
Do I want a co-ed house share off campus
? I have made it my mission in life all through high school to avoid boys and now I might be living with some?
“Look Sam,” she says, leaning forward, her face softening, “this is all I have at this stage. You can either take it or well…try and get the nightmares under control so you don’t have to move.”
I look down at my hands and just shake my head. “No, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful. It sounds perfect,” I whisper back at her. “Please can you call them and see if I can have the room you suggested?”
“Sure thing,” she replies. I watch her make the calls and tap away on the keyboard again.
Ten minutes later, she stops and gives me a beaming smile. “Right, all sorted! They are expecting you there tonight and will show you the room and hand you a key.”
I thank her and walk dejectedly back to my dorm to pack up my things and start again. All I wanted was a fresh, positive new start and it seems I have already messed it up. I spend the whole day packing my things and tidying up my side of the room. I should be in class, but this is more important for now. Jess comes bounding in at 4:00 p.m. and stops short when she sees all my boxes in a corner. Her face takes on a look of guilt and then relief, which makes me feel really bad about messing up her nights.
“So, you are going?” she asks, sitting down on her bed and pulling off her shoes. Jess is a really petite and beautiful girl with lots of male admirers. I know because she often brings them home with her. I smile internally when I realize, gratefully, at
least I won’t have to walk in on anything when I have my own room
. “Yes. Look, I know the nightmares have been a pain to you and if I could stop them, I wouldn’t be going,” I say to her earnestly. “It’s been awesome living here with you but I do understand you need your sleep.”